Witchcraft In The Early Modern Isle Of Man

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Abstract:

This article examines evidence relating to witchcraft beliefs and official attitudes to witchcraft in the Isle of Man during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is based mainly on court records, and above all those of the Manx ecclesiastical courts. It demonstrates that there was a rich popular culture relating to witchcraft on the island, with a number of individualistic features. It places Manx witchcraft beliefs in relation to two other phenomena that were central to the island's popular culture: fairy beliefs and the belief in the efficacy of the curse. It also demonstrates that the island's authorities maintained a relatively low-keyed approach to witchcraft (only two people are known to have been executed as witches in the island), treating it as a sign of popular ignorance and a regrettable source of neighbourly disputes rather than as a satanic heresy.

Keywords: ATTITUDES; COURT RECORDS; CURSING; ISLE OF MAN

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of History, University of York

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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